Trials & Litigation

Immigration Courts in 7 Cities to Suspend Dockets as Government Mulls Dropping More Cases


Since the executive branch announced a new policy last year under which only so-called priority offenders against immigration law would be pursued for deportation, practitioners say there has been more prosecutorial discretion shown on a case-by-case basis.

But the number of suspended cases could now escalate as the feds close immigration courts in four cities for an undetermined period to focus on reviewing to see which prosecutions can be dropped, the Seattle Times reports.

The four cities are Detroit; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; and Seattle. Immigration judges there will be reassigned to other courts to help deal with the cases of detainees.

The Bay Area News Group reports that immigration courts in three more cities—New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles—will be fully or partially closed in May, June and July, respectively, as cases there are also reviewed for potential suspension.

Attorney Shannon Underwood tells the Seattle Times that local practitioners were told by chief counsel Rafael Sánchez of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a recent meeting that ICE attorneys in the region have been reviewing and closing about 17 percent of their cases. That is apparently a higher percentage than in other regions.

In pilot programs in Baltimore and Denver, some 1,600 out of 11,682 cases were suspended, the newspaper reports.

However, the incoming president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Laura Lichter, says putting cases on hold may not be the best solution for many of those most likely to qualify for a reprieve, who could potentially win their cases if they sought immigration hearings, reports the Bay Area News Group.

“It’s the people who have the middling cases, who aren’t likely to win, otherwise good people, they should be taken off the top and they’re not,” said Lichter. She has a defense practice in Denver.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal: “ABA Support for a Proposal to Reduce Immigration Cases Finally Pays Off”

ABAJournal.com: “US to Review 300,000 Deportation Files; Many Might Win Reprieve Under New Case-By-Case Policy”

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